Report: Modeling, simulation could have helped during Gulf War
- By Dan Verton
- Feb 29, 2000
An interim Pentagon report on Gulf War Illness concluded that advanced modeling
and simulation technologies could have warned military officials about the
risks posed to troops during air attacks against Iraq's chemical and biological
The "information paper," released Feb. 24 by the Pentagon's Office of
the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, contradicts 1997 press accounts
that mistakenly cited a report produced by the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory as evidence that air campaign planners had prior knowledge of
chemical and biological warfare risks associated with bombing Iraqi facilities.
"Our investigation concluded that the Lawrence Livermore report did
not model possible dispersion of chemical of biological warfare agents caused
by attacks on Iraqi chemical and biological warfare facilities," wrote Bernard
Rostker, the Defense Department's special assistant for Gulf War Illnesses.
"Research indicates that several government agencies conducted computer
modeling and simulation of attacks against Iraqi targets," stated Rostker.
"None of these efforts attempted to show the results of the dispersal of
chemical or biological warfare agents."
Since the war ended, thousands of veterans have complained of mysterious
ailments and disabilities that some experts believe may be related to exposure
to chemical and biological warfare agents.
The modeling for the Gulf War air campaign began in late 1990 in the
Pentagon under the direction of an air staff organization known as Checkmate,
supported by the Air Force Studies and Analysis Agency. Rostker's investigation,
however, found that modeling and simulations were conducted not out of concerns
related to the bombing of chemical and biological warfare targets but about
aircraft and aircrew losses. In fact, the computer-driven simulations were
derived from the Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Simulation
Model, known as C3ISIM, according to the investigation.
"This model [C3ISIM] is a classic attrition model which simulated flying
specific aircraft missions during which the aircraft were exposed to enemy
air defenses," the information paper states.
The Pentagon investigation also looked at the modeling capabilities
of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
"Until after the Gulf War, the Defense Intelligence Agency had no in-house
capability to assess the effects of weapons of mass destruction, but relied
on Defense Nuclear Agency modeling, which was not used to predict hazards
to coalition forces from coalition air attacks on Iraqi targets," according
to the report, adding that an experienced modeling contractor said the CIA
"had some capability to conduct hazard prediction modeling."